Dr. Kanu Uche who turned 65 a few weeks back is the Prelate of the Methodist Church, Nigeria. Like most respected men of God, he holds strong views about what the church is supposed to be doing in Nigeria.
And since he was elected to lead the Methodist Church he has done a lot to strengthen the Church and retain the fundamental ideals of the Church.
In this interview with the Publisher of City People Magazine, SEYE KEHINDE, who is of the Methodist faith, he talks about why the Methodist Church which places a lot of emphasis on Salvation is different from other churches that preach prosperity. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How has it been running the Methodist Church, Nigeria?
Its been Okay. God has been faithful. The only thing worrying me is the stress of this work. I am not talking about Physical Stress. No. I mean Mental Stress. You know stress can kill. It can cause Anxiety. It can cause Hypertension or for your BP to rise. As for physical strength, I thank God. He has given me that physical strength.
Yes, like any other church, Methodist Church, Nigeria has all manner of people within its fold. You have the good people. We have people that are pliable. We have people who are very recalcitrant and disobedient. So, in a way, every church is a miniature Nigeria. All sorts of people are there but I am happy that majority of our members know where they are going. They are Kingdom compliant. Only an infinitesimal proportion seen not to know that our journey ends in Heaven. And so those people when you see them, the Bible says, by their fruits you will know them. They are always impervious, always cantankerous, always forming cliques, and they don’t see anything good in what we are doing. But they are a very insignificant minority. They cannot pull down the church, by the Grace of God. Generally, I can say everything works well in our Church.
And like you know, we maintain strict discipline and people may not like our way of preaching. In our teachings and preaching we emphasize Salvation.
We preach Salvation by Grace. We believe that Salvation is not achieved by human efforts. Salvation is received. It is by Grace, through Faith.
Apparently, that Faith makes you to work diligently, assiduously, and strive to ensure that you don’t fall from Grace.
So, it is paradoxical. It is a Paradox. We are saved by Grace, but if Grace does not have work of Faith its Nonsensical Grace.
On the other hand, the Salvation that they have, through Faith, also makes us to work hard to retain our position as children of God.
So, we are to have level-headed approach to the things of God and in our relationship with men, we must make sure that we relate very well with the man. That is why the theme of Methodist Conference this year is: Strive For Peace with All Men and in Holiness, without which no one will see God.
To see God means to see the Kingdom and to enter. If you don’t see, you can’t enter. Jesus told Nicodemus unless one is born again you will not see the Kingdom of God. And he went on to emphasise, unless one is born of the Water and Spirit, he will not enter the Kingdom of God. Water then remains the initial identity of Baptism, acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and then you are Baptised by water and that water also shows that the word of God has the power to wash the sinner. And then the Spirit there means reinvigoration, revamping, galvanizing, empowering, potentiating, so that you will remain fresh, like a tree planted by the waters and your roots is firm in God. That Spirit of God nourishes you and makes you a human being that will relate well with everybody and you will able to fulfill the golden rule. Love your neighbour as yourself. You will have love for God, not love for man. Somebody says the Love for God and Man is triangular. It is an equilateral triangle.
That is a triangle of 60 degrees on both sides. So, God is at the top and man is below. So, when the Love of Man is empowered by the Love of God, man will relate well.
If you see people quarrelling with other people, they lack the Love of God. If you see people killing, and shedding blood they lack the Love of God. If you see people cheating, they don’t have the love of God. Love of God makes you humble. It makes you a good mixer without compromising your position as a child of God.
When you compare the Methodist Church and older Churches to other Pentecostal Churches, there are major differences in what they preach. You preach. Salvation, some others preach Prosperity. How do you feel about this?
Yes. There are differences. People have their own perspectives. I wouldn’t very much condemn the new churches or Pentecostal Churches. But I see that most of them talk about Prosperity. And how to have Millions, Millions and Millions…
I regard it as exploitation, asking people who come to church to worship to keep contributing and contributing is exploitation.
These are churches where the Pastor will come to church and he will say: the Holy Spirit says we need N5 million from 10 people. There are people here who can give N5millino. Every Sunday is launching. Whether they stole the money you don’t know. But the church members will keep giving the Pastor the money. And others who can’t give N5 million will give N2 million. And it goes on like that.
That is not the Gospel. The Gospel is solid. The Gospel provokes people to repentance. Preachers are not entertainers that entertain people. Preachers are not Jesters that make people laugh. If I preach and you clap. I will feel sad.
That means what I have said has not touched. I want to preach a sermon that will pain you, no matter how Holy or Highly Praised you are. So that you can go and think about your life and repent. Maybe that is why we in the older churches don’t have so much money like the new pastors. The Kingdom of God is not about having naira and kobo. The Kingdom of God is not about having money or building palaces.
All these things we would leave them here. If you look at those pastors that exploit the members they had engage in productive ventures to help their congregation.
Do you know how much Methodist Church pays every month to workers to maintain health centres. We pay workers there. We have many, many motherless babies homes.
We pay the workers there. And we provide the food for children without parents, for the past 60 years and we are not tired of doing that. We have a place for the mentally ill, retarded people, also for mad people. We maintain them there. If I tell you how much the Methodist Church, Nigeria pays every month you will be amazed. It is a colossal amount. Compare that to those who keep building fancy churches that people can see and then people say they are doing well ooo.
In the Methodist Church and in other older Churches, we are building human beings. I repeat, quote me, Methodist Church Nigeria is building human beings.
And we are also training people in Intellect and Youths. At all our Theological institutes, and in our schools and University.
We are training people. We are training the youths. That is our own Philosophy: Build Human Beings, not to build Empires or Fancy Church buildings.